Chapter 2. They journeyed towards the castle in the self-moving carriages, chatting amongst themselves with small talk. Each one of them were looking forward to the feast which they were to be thrust upon.
Remus, feeling pity for Sirius had patched up his blackened eye using a quick movement of his wand.
“How will you boys be spending your last year, then?” Aileen asked to fill in the silence.
All four of them smiled to themselves, James and Sirius especially.
They reached the castle in half an hour, where they walked hurriedly towards the Great Hall, eager to feast their mouths on some delicious food.
They did their best to sit still and patiently while listening to Dumbledore's speech. Aileen nudged James and Sirius as she saw Arnold Redwar – the small kid from back home stumble forwards towards the centre stage. They paid great attention as he was being sorted.
“Slytherin!” the sorting hat shouted aloud. Aileen sighed with disappointment while James and Sirius booed.
Finally, Dumbledore concluded: “Let the feast begin.” With that, James and Sirius cheered and eyed the empty plates with longing.
As soon as the food popped out of nowhere, they lunged into the chicken drumsticks and gobbled it with their hands.
Aileen stared with disgust before picking up her own drumstick and taking a bite into it. Remus used his cutlery to cut up his bit of steak as he ate courteously.
“You know-” Aileen began.
“Not now. Eating.” James interrupted, yelping and dropping his drumstick as she kicked him hard on the shin.
“You know, Ramona Kwitters looks like a decent girl.” she nodded at the four-eyed, black haired, pretty asian girl sitting by herself on the Ravenclaw table. Sirius turned to look and observed her while taking another bite out of his drumstick.
“What year she in?” he asked, turning back towards the table.
“My year.” Aileen picked up a corn on the cob and took a bite so that the juice squirted everywhere.
Sirius grunted as he took a bit of steak and cut it up vigourously.
“I've seen her up close Padfoot,” said James, picking up his cup, “she's not that bad.”
“Since when has it all been about looks?” Aileen instantly regretted opening her mouth.
“Since puberty hit us, Aile.”
“Whatever Sirius. Just get to know her first. She's in my Potions class and she's nice.”
Sirius grunted again and dropped his cutlery. He nudged James on the shoulder and jerked his head towards someone behind Aileen.
James looked over to where Sirius gestured and sniggered. “Ha, Snivellus.”
“Why don't you guys give him a break? It's his last year too.” Aileen said. She'd always felt sorry for him, but on the other hand she did find it amusing.
“All the more reason to tyrannise him.” muttered James, still eyeing Snape with abhor.
“James!” hissed Aileen.
“Come on Aile, cut me some slack.” James groaned.
“No, James, Evans was watching you.”
James stiffened immediately as Sirius looked back at Lily.
“Well, she's stopped now.” Aileen defended herself, “But she was before.”
“Yeah, I saw her too.” Lupin agreed, giving James a funny little look. James flushed a soft pink and ruffled his hair.
“My oh my, that girl's grown up the past holiday.” Sirius interrupted James' thunder. His eyes followed a fifth year fellow Gryffindor with thirst.
They all looked back, Aileen with a small scorn while the boys shifted uncomfortably.
“She looks like she just came back from Loompa Land.” Aileen scoffed. True enough, the fifth year girl did have more than an orange tinge to her skin.
Ever heard of magic? Thought Aileen, stifling a snicker.
“Loompa Land?” Sirius perplexed expression didn't stop the girl from heading over their way.
“Oh, Aileen, did you have a lovely summer?” Her voice was priceless. High-pitched, fake and doll-ish mixed with false concern for Aileen.
“Oh yeah, brilliant.” Aileen replied with barely concealed sarcasm.
“That's good.” the girl replied, sitting down besides her and pulling her robes up slightly. Aileen faced away from the girl and looked at Lupin instead with an irritated manner.
“I'm Sidney Meadow.” she introduced herself to Sirius and James, with a piggy Peter looking on with desire.
“That's nice.” Aileen muttered so that only Lupin could hear, while the others introduced themselves.
“You're a friend of Aile then?” Sirius asked. Aileen spun around, displaying an appalled face at Sirius.
“More acquaintances.” she answered before Sidney could even utter a sound.
“Yeah, we've seen each other around.” she hardly even looked at Aileen.
“So, do you have a boyfriend?” James asked, adding a drool-worthy wink.
Aileen made a gagging noise and lifted her cup to her mouth and took her time sipping her pumpkin juice.
Sidney barely noticed Aileen now, she fluttered her eyelashes and said shyly: “No.”
“How 'bout you go out with Sirius here?” James placed his forearm on Sirius' shoulder and patted it roughly. Sirius looked the least surprised.
“Yeah, what do you say?” swayed Sirius, voice soft and melting.
“Yeah, okay.” Sidney said, barely audible.
For a while, there was only the chatters and titters of the people surrounding them. No sound came from James, Sirius or Sidney. Lupin gestured for Aileen to turn around, so she did. A loud giggle came from her mouth. Sirius had clasped Sidney's hand and rubbed it fondly while Sidney gazed at him dreamily, eyes lost in a mist. James eyed Aileen, bemused while Sidney looked startled. Sirius smiled.
“Do you have a problem with that?” snapped Sidney, bitterly.
“No, no problem.” Aileen muttered, turning back to Lupin. She mouthed at him: “Craazy.” Lupin chuckled loudly.
“You know, I think you do have a problem.”
“Listen lady, you can think whatever you want. I don't have a problem.” Aileen got up from her seat, followed by Lupin and Peter; who was still eyeing Sidney with desire.
“You're just jealous.”
Aileen had to laugh out loud.
“Yeah? Okay Sidney, why in the world would anyone be jealous of you? I mean... you kinda do look like an orange... Maybe a mandarin...” she said as an afterthought. Then she started to leave in between Moony and Wormtail.
“Aile, wait.” Sirius said, getting up as well. “Listen, I can see this relationship isn't gonna work out.” he said to Sidney. James chortled, placed his forearm on Sirius' shoulder and lead him away from Sidney.
Aileen hid a grin and left a scandalised looking Sidney behind.
“That was nice of you.” she giggled, when they met up with Sirius and James again at the door.
Sirius laughed, “Thanks to you, I lost a perfectly eligible girl.” he held Aileen close to him, arm around her shoulder - causing the passing girls to stare with envy. He smiled broadly at them while Aileen blushed.
“Moony, Wormtail, are you guys planning on getting girlfriends this year?” Aileen asked from under Sirius' arm.
“If I find the right one.” Remus replied, humming to himself.
“Come on Remus, have some fun.” encouraged James, spinning around so he was walking backwards – facing the others.
“What bout you, Wormtail?”
“If.. anyone wanted to.. yeah, I guess.” he mumbled nervously.
“What, have James and Sirius been keeping the good one's to themselves or something?”
Neither of the two shied away, instead, they grinned widely.
They reached the Gryffindor common room and stood there absently while James tried to remember the password.
Lily Evans and her brunette friend walked up to them. “Potter.” she nodded at him and walked through the door.
James gaped after her, slack jawed.
“Did you see? She hardly even looked at me!” he hissed to Aileen as they themselves followed, setting foot in their beloved Common Room.
“Maybe she was nervous.” she replied, sitting herself down on the sofa. James sat across from her, still contemplating what had just happened.
“Calm down, Prongs.” said Sirius who sat besides Aileen. “Listen to the girl.” he hooked his arm across the back of the sofa and crossed one foot over the other knee.
Aileen sighed, “She's probably nervous 'cause she's never talked to you in front of us.”
“So it's your fault.” accused James hurriedly.
“What? Yeah, uh, I s'pose so.” Remus and Aileen exchanged a small look, Peter keeping quiet, looking as though he was in quite a depressed mood.
More people began entering the common room and talk about Lily Evans died down and talk about the summer holidays began to arise. A bunch of girls were hovering besides James' arm chair, talking in furious whispers and attention seeking glances at the Marauders. James enthralled them with his famous wink and they went off giggling their brains out. Getting slightly sick of it, Aileen got up.
“I'm going to my dorm. 'Night guys.”
“It's still early.” Sirius protested. Aileen replied with a curt wave.
She dodged around a group of girls and trotted up the stairs. She was relieved to find that she was the only one to have come up. She unzipped her trunk (which was already under her bed) and searched for her pyjama shorts and night shirt. Finding them after several bits and pieces flew out of her trunk, she got changed behind the safety of her curtains even though there was no one there.
Her roommate – Danica Roralice – was due to come in late at night. She was probably the most annoying person in the castle. She would ask non-stop questions about the Marauders: who they like, what they do in their spare time, why they hang out with Aileen. Insensitive questions which Aileen normally just ignores, although that doesn't stop her from talking.
Danica's had a crush on all the marauders since her first year. It was quite depressing actually. She's never even uttered a word at them all these years.
Laughing at the stupidity of it all, Aileen turned off the light with a flick of her rosewood, 9¾ inch wand and got under her sheets.
Just as she was about to drift off into a nice slumber, the light burst on again and Danica's shrilly voice came through the door.
It took Aileen every bit of effort to contain herself from swearing. Instead she clenched her teeth and closed her eyes tightly, in a desperate, mere attempt to stop Danica from talking.
“Oh, I didn't know you were already asleep!” She shrilled. She obviously was thick. Aileen rolled her eyes from under her eyelids.
“You know who looked rather hot today...” she said as she got changed into her briefs and midriff night shirt. “Remus Lupin. He looked stunning tonight.”
Aileen felt a laugh rising from her throat, so she clenched her jaw tighter. There were sounds of Danica's sheets being pulled and then a click from the light switch.
“I never really thought about him before, he didn't seem like my type.” she continued to herself. It was as though Aileen was her own diary, where she released all her feelings about the marauders. Of course, Aileen wasn't cruel enough to tell the marauders everything she says. “But I'm reconsidering after tonight. He picked up my bracelet for me.”
Aileen let her continue with her speech on how she was 'mistaken' about Remus. Gradually, Danica trailed off and fell asleep. But the damage had been done and Aileen was unable to get to sleep. Not until early in the morning at least.
She awoke abruptly from a loud snore coming from Danica's direction. She turned on her side and checked the fluorescent green light which displayed the time. It read: 6.37.
Groaning, she turned on her back and stared at the ceiling. She knew she couldn't get back to sleep so instead she pulled her sheets off and opened the door quietly. With a quick glance at Danica, she went through the door and closed it lightly. Aileen stepped down the stairs, still in her pyjamas and stopped with mild surprise.
“Remus, you're up early.” Moony was seated at a table – already dressed in his school robes - looking absent mindedly at nowhere. His eyes came into focus and he smiled.
“So are you.” he said, patting the table space besides him.
Aileen took her time sitting next to him.
“How come you're up?” she asked, studying Lupin. He'd looked a bit distressed, although apart from that he seemed fine.
“I'm an early riser. What about you?”
“My roommate gave me a wake up call.” she muttered, taking a quill from the table and twirling it around her fingers vacantly.
Lupin laughed inwardly and watched her fingers dance around the quill.
“Do you think you'll be able to change before the full moon?” He was talking about becoming an animagus, which Aileen still hadn't managed to do, despite the efforts of the marauders to teach her for the past year or so.
“I don't know. I haven't been so fortunate so far.”
“What are you planning to be, anyway?” It hadn't been clear what she was trying to become the previous times. Even Aileen wasn't sure what she had been aiming for.
She hesitated a moment, “A butterfly.”
Lupin laughed again, “You're not sure are you?”
Aileen shook her head. It was only in front of Lupin where she felt as though it was okay to be dumb.
“What about some kind of bird?” he thought for a moment, “We don't have a bird in our group.”
“There are loads of types of birds Remus, do you have any suggestions?”
Remus thought again, bringing his hand under his chin. “A dove? It suits you.”
Aileen considered the idea, gradually becoming fonder and fonder of the notion.
“Can you guys teach me again. Later tonight?”
“If the others feel up to it, I don't see why not.”
Aileen grinned brightly. “Thanks.”
By the time the others had come down, it was eight and Aileen had already changed. The others strutted down the stairs, announcing their presence to everyone through talking loudly.
“Bright and Shine everyone.” James proclaimed, jumping the last step. Instead of lingering over the stairs, Sirius followed by Peter headed towards Remus and Aileen.
“How long have you guys been down here?” Sirius asked, leading them outside the common room.
Remus and Aileen exchanged smiles.
James caught up to them, breathing heavily.
“Don't you have any duties you're supposed to tend to?” asked Aileen with cheek.
“Nope. Hey, Padfoot, that's the girl Aile was talking 'bout last night.” He pointed towards the black haired, asian girl, just entering the Great Hall by herself.
“Hey, she's not bad.” he said, watching as her robes danced along behind her.
They sat themselves at the Gryffindor table, Sirius next to Aileen so that he could observe Ramona more closely.
“Go talk to her then.” Aileen told him, after she placed a spoonful of cereal in her mouth. She was getting slightly irritated of constantly hearing about how Ramona eats her breakfast.
To her surprise, Sirius got to his feet and fixed his robe before striding towards Ramona. All four of them watched with interest as Sirius charmed her with his rugged good looks and seducing smile. Not soon after, Ramona dropped her cutlery besides her plate and watched Sirius with unending infatuation. Sirius sat himself besides her and fondled her hands, flashing his straight teeth at her. It seemed like Sirius must've said something funny because she started laughing and her laughter rung throughout the Hall. Sirius took this time to look back at the other marauders and Aileen. He grinned and looked back to the ravenclaw.
He moved in closer towards her and watched as her laughter ceased.
“No.” gasped Aileen, “He wouldn't...”
The marauders laughed and watched intently as Sirius moved in for a kiss. The two stayed connected for an elongated moment and Aileen's eyes widened.
Already?! she thought. “He's smooth.” she said, mouth slightly open with shock.
Sirius parted from her, looking into her eyes and excused himself slyly. The others turned back to look at each other as Sirius headed back.
“That felt good.” he bragged, smiling broadly.
“Are you two official now?” Aileen asked, doubting the relationship would last long if their first kiss happened on their first meeting.
“Official?” he mumbled, taking a bite out of Aileen's spoon. “You mean boyfriend/girlfriend? Nah.”
“You just snogged her and you're not official?” gasped Aileen, mock incredulity.
“We just met. You can't expect us to be official now.” he said, taking another scoop. Aileen rolled her eyes at Remus.
“Mate, that was great. A record I reckon.” James said, grinning proudly.
“Was she pretty?” asked Peter, no doubt jealous.
“Yeah. A great kisser too.”
“Are you going to persist?” Aileen took the spoon out of his hand and took her own mouthful.
“Persist? Persist in what? I don't need to.”
“Don't you normally get to third base with girls?” she murmured, playing with her soggy cereal.
“You think I'm a sleaze who use girls?” he asked, not taking any offence to it.
“You tell me, Sirius.”
James roared with laughter, “Sirius?” he roared again while Peter laughed unsurely. Even Lupin managed a quick snigger. “He's never...”
“Yeah, I've never.”
Aileen gawked. Sirius didn't seem the least bit embarrassed.
“You're still... You're still.. a virgin?” she whispered the 'V' word with the most quietest and softest breath.
“Yep. I don't plan on losing it anytime soon either.” he asserted.
“Wow.” was all she managed to say.
“What? You didn't know?” he asked, smiling at her sophistication.
“You haven't exactly acted like you were.” she defended herself and groaned as she read her timetable.
“What do you have?”
“Charms, Potions, a free period then Transfiguration.” she muttered, not at all happy. First she would have to endure a lesson with the Slytherins, then she would most probably have to endure questions from Ravenclaw girls, an addition of one – Ramona Kwitter.
“That's brilliant. We get a free period then as well.”
“Oh super.” Not necessarily enthusiasm at its greatest.
The bell rung and Aileen said good bye to the boys. She walked quickly to her charms class, avoiding eye contact with everyone. She lined up, leaning against the wall with her head kept down and waited patiently for Professor Flitwick.
A group of Slytherins came around the corner, laughing loudly.
“Ooh, Parady.” Carter walked up to her, a fellow slytherin girl in his arms. Aileen ignored him and kept looking forward.
“What's the matter? Wolf got your tongue?” The others guffawed.
“Hey, Parady, I heard my brother snogged that mudblood from Ravenclaw. Is that true?” Regulus too, had a girl wrapped in his arms.
“That's not your business is it Black?” Aileen sneered. She felt no affection for him whatsoever, the complete opposite of Sirius. What worried her more was what Carter said: wolf. Maybe he knew.
Carter made a tch sound, depicting some sort of pain. “See Parady, that there is your problem. That's why you don't have any friends apart from the marauders.” he spat.
The Slytherins giggled and Regulus howled like a wolf. Aileen's eyes closed a fraction as she stared at them with suspicion and loathe. No other Gryffindor came to her aid.
“Piss off.” she muttered, turning her head to the front again.
“Come on Parady, you don't belong in Gryffindor. You know that.” Carter touched her cheek with the tips of his fingers. It was true, she was a pureblood, just like them. A bubble in Aileen erupted and she brought a fist on to his nose.
“Cra-” Regulus yelled as he crouched down besides Carter, checking his bloodied nose. Just at that moment, Professor Flitwick turned the corner. He rushed towards the circle gathered around Carter and Regulus.
“Who did this?” he squeaked as he mended his nose. Carter's girl pointed at Aileen. “Miss Parady?” he sighed, “See your head of house.”
“She's probably teaching a class right now, Sir.”
Professor Flitwick said nothing. He merely pointed his crooked finger towards the opposite direction. Carter looked at her, not a smile or frown on his face, blood running down his mouth and chin.
It wasn't a surprise – Aileen getting into a fight. It wasn't the first time she was the reason for a bloody nose around the castle. Although the marauders were proud of her, the teachers were obviously not.
She knocked on the door to Professor McGonagall's transfiguration room, feeling slightly sick. The door opened itself and she walked through the door, towards a pursed lips Professor.
“Sorry, Professor. Professor Flitwick sent me here.” Coincidentally, it was the marauder's class. Each one of them had been put in separate corners of the room, sitting besides someone of the Hufflepuff house. They all exchanged gleeful looks and looked on as Aileen continued towards McGonagall.
“What did you do now?” she sighed heavily, no doubt angry that the first day and first lesson of the year, Aileen was sent to her already.
“I punched Rivers in the face.” Aileen said, knowing that the marauders would burst out with laughter. And so they did. Only to be stopped by a fierce look from the Professor. Even the Hufflepuff's shared a giggle.
McGonagall seemed even more angered, if that was possible.
“What ever for, Parady?” she reprimanded.
“For absolutely no reason.” Aileen replied as people snorted around her.
Professor McGonagall studied her grimly while she merely stared back coolly.
“I hate to be doing this,” said McGonagall, “Today being the first day, but you must see me later tonight for detention. Now go back to class.”
James and Sirius waved at her as she passed the back row. She grinned, sticking her tongue out at them.
The door slammed shut behind her and she took her time – more than twenty minutes - walking back to Flitwick's class. She walked through the door and sat on her own, behind two Gryffindor girls who were practising the Protean Charm.
She made a rude gesture towards Regulus and Carter behind Flitwick's back. She took her time taking her books out and swore loudly as the bell rung for the next period, docking a five points from Gryffindor.
Potion was just as bad, if anything, even worst. Like Aileen had predicted, Ramona Kwitter sat down besides her while Slughorn talked about an Unctous Unction potion.
“I've heard you're a good friend of Sirius'.” she muttered out of the side of her mouth while also taking notes.
“Yeah, you heard right,” Aileen replied tiredly, not even touching her bit of parchment.
“Is he, is he nice?” she asked, pausing to listen to Slughorn.
“I s'pose.” Aileen muttered, not bothered to fill her in with the details.
“Are you and him... you know, an item?”
“What?” Aileen was shocked, never had she thought of them as an item, “No, we're not. Why do you say that?”
“I heard that you were.” Ramona put her head down again and wrote quickly.
Aileen brooded over that with confusion.
The bell rung in what seemed to be a 45 hours, each minute becoming an hour. Aileen was very relieved when she met up with the marauders again out near the lake.
“Kill me now and chop up the pieces. Then burn them and chuck 'em in the lake.” she groaned, laying on the lovely grass which swayed slightly to the breeze. “Oh, and Sirius, if it's not official between you and Ramona, tell her. She wouldn't stop bugging me about it all lesson.”
Sirius sat down besides her, leaning on his elbow as he looked at her. Lupin sat up against a large boulder while Peter watched as James chatted up some girls, hoping to get some tips.
“Why'd you punch Rivers? It's not like you Aile.” he joked, chuckling. Out of all people, he and James surely knew that it was most like her.
Aileen explained to Sirius and Lupin what happened.
“And so, he told me that I didn't belong in Gryffindor, then he touched my cheek!” Aileen's cheeks flushed. From anger or for another reason, they didn't know. To be truthful, Aileen quite enjoyed the feeling of Carter's fingertips on her cheeks. She'd never been touched like that and she found it a thrilling experience, although she didn't tell the others that.
They spent the next hour or so lounging on the grass, basking in the warmth and light of the ever so bright sun, talking about things not worth talking about.
Aileen knew she would regret not using that free period to do her homework, especially the cruel load which Flitwick had set upon her, but for some reason, she didn't care. She lost all enthusiasm for school and homework. It became tiring for her, doing the same thing over and over again. People would've thought that with the marauders by her side, she would be the happiest girl on the face of the Earth. They just didn't understand. she lacked that certain someone. She'd never felt affection in that way before. And how she craved it. She knew her time was short in Hogwarts but in the five years she'd been there, she didn't feel close to anyone but the marauders.
With that on her mind, the bell rung signalling the end of their luxury. She parted from the marauders and left for Transfiguration where Professor McGonagall would surely torment her for misbehaving on the first day.